Natural gas pipeline from North Adams to Bennington a possibility

An Ohio-based developer is looking for local support in his bid to connect existing natural gas service in North Adams, Massachusetts, up to Bennington, Vermont. 

A developer based in Canton, Ohio is wooing business leaders and citizens in Bennington, looking to construct a natural gas pipeline about 18 miles from North Adams to the Vermont town. 

The first hurdle is getting Bennington’s interest. Jim Sullivan, director of the Bennington County Regional Commission, says the area wants alternatives to oil. But some of the larger potential customers for natural gas have already moved to alternatives like the woodchip biomass system Bennington College adopted in 20-08.  

Sullivan says a heating alternative taking advantage of the region’s abundance of forest land could be a better deal than natural gas.

“I can look out my window here and see a lot of energy supply growing in the trees and mountains and forests around here. That one we know about. That one’s a reliable supply and a tried and true technology.”

Developer David Eigel is looking to lay a 12-inch plastic or steel pipeline, following existing highway property easements, from North Adams to Bennington. The project would require approval from state and federal agencies, as well as a local ballot initiative in Bennington to levy a fee on property owners to pay off an initial cost of twenty to twenty-five million dollars. This is in addition to the monthly expense of natural gas service to homes and businesses. 

Eigel says there would be minimal disruption along the pipeline route. 

“Instead of cutting an open ditch, and laying the pipe in a ditch, you actually bore the pipe into the ground, so immediately after you’ve installed the line you can barely tell that it’s gone in because there’s very little surface disturbance.”

Eigel predicts the permitting and construction process could take two years. The next step in Bennington is an opinion survey to gauge the level of local interest.